I’m Simon. I’m in my late twenties (soon to be very late), and I live in London. Recently back from a travelling trip (Sri Lanka, India, Nepal for seven months) where all I heard, pretty much, was reggae, and only ever Bob Marley at that, I’m eager to get back into the musical variety that London- as well as access to internet- has to offer. I’m a fan of older stuff, my dad’s LP collection was always a treasure trove for me as a teenager, but also current and new stuff. My preference has always been guitar music which often means bands: for me there’s something special about getting to know a band- of course their music, but also the other stuff, the stuff of drama, the conflicting personalities, the feuds, and the lovers (sometimes shared). But that doesn’t rule out other genres, or other set-ups. I have become ever more tolerant as my twenties have rolled on, and enjoy more of a range now.
Something that lovers of all genres can agree on is the excitement you feel when discovering a fresh, new, evocative sound. And that’s what happened the other day. I came across the new London-based band Aloric when scrolling through Stereogum. They recently premiered the band’s new single ‘Who?’ along with the accompanying video, and I really liked both. The way the song seamlessly transitions between vastly different sounds and moods really grabbed me. I was impressed and so arranged to meet with the guitarist and founding member of the band, in a London pub.
He presented as a tall man, with hair tied up in a bun, dressed in a colourful shirt and black skinny jeans. As I sat down beside him at the bar, I noticed some subtler points: a tangle of necklaces around his neck and an array of bracelets around both wrists. There was a brief pause after the drinks had been ordered and I thought back to his bracelets as material to fill it with, but he began talking about the band. Here is a man with a passion, I thought; and with that I began the interview.
‘What kind of music are you trying to get out? Does the band have an identity?’
‘There’s not really an identity, it’s more a combination of three people: Jeff Buckley, Bjork and Sigur Ros. They’re my ‘Bermuda Triangle’ of music and everything I do comes from them. It’s about trying to find the middle ground between them and incorporating different elements from all three. But more it’s just about trying to create something beautiful & unique; something different.’
‘Ok. So tell me about the name. Sounds different, what’s it all about?’
‘It’s the name of a friend of a friend, and I found it really phonetically beautiful when I heard it. I googled it and it has roots in the Kaballa, which may be bullshit, but the meanings really resonated. Stuff like “someone who takes a systematic approach to things”, “is attentive to detail”, “enjoys being in nature”; I just found it really interesting and beautiful.’
‘Interesting stuff. You’ve got the band’s name but you’ve also got a symbol for the band, haven’t you. Tell me about that.’
‘The whole thing is a mandala that my friend drew for us. If you look in detail, there’s a triangle in the middle and super-imposed on top of that is Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, which happens to resonate with the chakras. And I just thought that it was a really beautiful image when I saw it, plus it looks fuckin great on a t-shirt.’
‘Sounds like you’ve given it a good deal of thought. It does look cool… So tell me about the single “Who?”’
‘“Who?” is inspired by our favourite Van Morrison song called “Who Was That Masked Man” and the last line of his song, which is such a beautiful finale, is: “there’s good and evil in everyone.” And our song is a celebration of that idea.
There’s a line that runs down each of us, one side is evil and one side is good; but I feel as humans we’re hard-wired to do good. 95% of the time we fall in the good category, and the lyrics of the song bear this out. Collectively, the lyrics ask, who can have all of these amazing qualities? And the answer is, anyone. Musically, and structurally, the song picks up on this duality in all of us, of good and evil. It starts off with all this craziness which represents the ‘bad’, and then transitions into the piano & vocals, which represent the ‘good’. The song ends in the same way that it starts, giving it a cyclical quality, but this time it’s influenced by a knowledge and an understanding: that anyone, and therefore everyone, possesses both good and bad.
‘That’s different to what I expected. When I looked at the lyrics, I thought that they were addressed to the speaker’s beloved. And that the speaker was singing the praises of his/her beloved, exclusively.’
‘The lyrics could be about one specific person, but it could also be about anyone. And this is the whole point. The song was heavily inspired by the Facebook page Humans of New York, which I don’t know whether you’ve seen, but the guy behind it just takes pictures of people and quotes them. And it really shows that everyone has so much shit going on in their lives, and that it’s really important to be compassionate. And so the question who (or ‘Who’) can be this amazing person? The answer is- any single fucker can be, we’ve got no idea.’
‘So how does the music video link in to all this. What’s it about and how does it link to the song and the ideas of the song?’
‘The music video is trying to get at the idea that this person can be anyone. So we tried to get different sexualities, different ages, looks, ethnicities, everything…
‘This person with these great qualities?’
‘Yeah, at the very end it finishes off with a collage. This goes back to the question posed throughout the song, and answers it by saying it could be any single person. You just don’t know. And I also just loved the Aphex Twin-esque monstrosity we created at the end!
‘Really interesting. Getting away from concepts though, what is it that you are concentrating on at the moment? Is it making more music? Playing live?’
‘It’s about getting out there at the moment. We’ve got loads of songs. We just need to find a drummer and a keys player/laptop whiz-kid so we can get touring. Nothing’s ever gonna replace playing live, and that’s what we want to do. We’re just focusing on finding the rest of the band. And yeah, we’ve got other releases lined up.’